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Evaluation article: Know your strengths Evaluation article: Developing an ethos of high expectation Achieving an ‘Outstanding’ Grade: Focused on Excellence Evaluation article: HR and the successful school: A case study Evaluation article: Leading the way to outstanding learner progress Evaluation article: Attainment and progress: The Rochford Review Evaluation article: How to create a leadership team that drives school improvement Evaluation article: Prioritising the budget for school improvement Evaluation article: Transforming a failing school Evaluation article: Evaluating alternative and specially resourced provision Evaluation article: Taking a school-wide approach to mental health and wellbeing Evaluation article: The latest developments in education - January 2016 Evaluation article: Managing uncertainty Evaluation article: Pupil voice as an evaluation technique Evaluation article: The latest developments in education - September 2016 Evaluation article: Deconstructing Ofsted: Reflection after inspection Evaluation article: MAT expansion: Don’t let school improvement become a casualty Evaluation article: Ten rules for outstanding leaders Evaluation article: The governing body as a critical friend Evaluation article: Developing an ethos of high expectations Evaluation article: The exam post-mortem Evaluation article: Safeguarding: Everyone’s responsibility Evaluation article: How do inspectors make the judgement about overall effectiveness? The Ofsted model Evaluation article: Effective leadership builds effective teams Evaluation article: Baseline assessment and SEND Evaluation article: Making performance management count in school improvement Evaluation article: Joining or setting up a multi-academy trust Evaluation article: Case study from Carlton Bolling College: Ensuring high-quality governance Evaluation article: Using pupil voice to support school evaluation Evaluation article: What are the signs of a good school improvement service adviser? Evaluation article: Headteachers’ appraisal Evaluation article: Making CPD work harder Evaluation article: Using the Framework for governance Evaluation article: Interpreting the inspection dashboard Evaluation article: The government's Prevent guidance Evaluation article: Improving provision for the most able Evaluation article: Personal development, behaviour and welfare Evaluation article: Is there a mental health crisis in our schools? Evaluation article: Evaluating the effectiveness of assessment Evaluation article: Raising boys’ achievement Evaluation article: National standards of excellence for headteachers Evaluation article: Governors and the inspection interview Evaluation article: Monitoring and coaching through lesson observation Evaluation article: CPD: Less measurement and more development Evaluation article: Challenging 
the most able Evaluation article: Using the teachers’ standards as a framework for CPD and accountability Evaluation article: Managing behaviour outside the classroom Evaluation article: Managing pupils’ behaviour in lessons Evaluation article: Keeping Children Safe Statutory Guidance Evaluation article: Four steps to school improvement Evaluation article: Finding a way through the jungle: The essence of leadership Evaluation article: How to audit your whole-school literacy provision Evaluation article: Professional development: the growing case for evidence Evaluation article: Getting personal  with CPD Evaluation article: Making performance appraisal an objective and helpful process Evaluation article: Parent View — an update Evaluation article: Raising pupil achievement through parental engagement: a practical approach Evaluation article: Effective parental engagement

Evaluation article: Know your strengths

Can you make inspection an enriching learning process that is actually good for your school? Heather Clements of Best Practice Network offers some advice. 

Evaluation article: Developing an ethos of high expectation

In this article, Steve Burnage shares some practical strategies to enable school leaders to develop an ethos of high expectation in their schools. 

Achieving an ‘Outstanding’ Grade: Focused on Excellence

Tony Powell outlines a step-by-step approach to support schools in achieving the accolade of ‘outstanding’ as defined by Ofsted.

Evaluation article: HR and the successful school: A case study

Adrian Kneeshaw, Headteacher of Carlton Bolling College, gives a personal viewpoint of the benefits of bringing in the experts.

Evaluation article: Leading the way to outstanding learner progress

Steve Burnage discusses engaging with good practice in the leadership of teaching and learning.

Evaluation article: Attainment and progress: The Rochford Review

Tony Powell reports on the findings of the final Rochford Review.

Evaluation article: How to create a leadership team that drives school improvement

A high-performing leadership team is at the centre of any school improvement mission. But how do you go about creating an excellent SLT? Colin McLean of Best Practice Network asks…

Evaluation article: Prioritising the budget for school improvement

Adrian Kneeshaw of Carlton Bolling school gives advice on how to focus school spending on improvement planning.

Evaluation article: Transforming a failing school

Matt Bromley offers some advice on turning around an underperforming school in a short space of time while laying down the foundations for sustainable improvement.

Evaluation article: Evaluating alternative and specially resourced provision

Tony Powell explains how inspectors gather evidence and make judgements on the quality of alternative and specially resourced provision.

Evaluation article: Taking a school-wide approach to mental health and wellbeing

With concerns about mental health rising, what can schools do to help their pupils? Suzanne O’Connell outlines the advice available from the National Children’s Bureau and how it might be…

Evaluation article: The latest developments in education - January 2016

Suzanne O’Connell provides a look at what’s currently being discussed, debated and determined in the world of education.

Evaluation article: Managing uncertainty

If you are struggling with a sense of uncertainty, be reassured: you are not alone. 2016 has been a year of upheaval, with the promise of big changes on the…

Evaluation article: Pupil voice as an evaluation technique

Tony Powell provides guidance on how to use discussion with pupils as a tool for self-evaluation.

Evaluation article: The latest developments in education - September 2016

Suzanne O’Connell provides a look at what’s currently being discussed, debated and determined in the world of education.

Evaluation article: Deconstructing Ofsted: Reflection after inspection

Tony Powell looks at how to use the feedback from your inspection in school improvement planning.

Evaluation article: MAT expansion: Don’t let school improvement become a casualty

How can an expanding multi-academy trust ensure that school improvement doesn’t become a casualty of change? Colin McLean of Best Practice Network looks at the issue and offers some guidance.

Evaluation article: Ten rules for outstanding leaders

Adrian Kneeshaw looks at how leadership is important to the success of the school, and how to lead effectively.

Evaluation article: The governing body as a critical friend

In his second article on the headteacher and governor relationship, Tony Powell defines what is meant by a ‘critical friend’.

Evaluation article: Developing an ethos of high expectations

Steve Burnage shares some practical strategies to enable school leaders to develop an ethos of high expectations in their schools.

Evaluation article: The exam post-mortem

Matt Bromley considers how schools can learn from exam performance data and build this into school improvement.

Evaluation article: Safeguarding: Everyone’s responsibility

With new safeguarding guidance released, it’s time to check your arrangements and update your staff.

Evaluation article: How do inspectors make the judgement about overall effectiveness? The Ofsted model

This article outlines the Ofsted methodology for determining whether a school is ‘outstanding’, ‘good’, ‘requires improvement’ or ‘inadequate’.

Evaluation article: Effective leadership builds effective teams

Steve Burnage offers advice on motivating staff, getting the best from them and building effective teams.

Evaluation article: Baseline assessment and SEND

Suzanne O’Connell looks at a report on baseline assessment in primary schools and it’s affect on identifying children with SEND.

Evaluation article: Making performance management count in school improvement

What do you need to do to make performance management a watertight process that makes a real contribution to school improvement? Keith Wright has some suggestions.

Evaluation article: Joining or setting up a multi-academy trust

Tony Stephens, of the Co-operative Academies Trust, looks at what is the best type of multi-academy trust for a school to join or establish.

Evaluation article: Case study from Carlton Bolling College: Ensuring high-quality governance

Adrian Kneeshaw, Headteacher of Carlton Bolling, gives a personal take on renewing a failing governing body having designed and built one from scratch.

Evaluation article: Using pupil voice to support school evaluation

David Birch explains how capturing the views of students can sharpen school self-evaluation and have a positive impact on your school improvement strategies.

Evaluation article: What are the signs of a good school improvement service adviser?

Frank Norris offers advice on how to choose the most appropriate school improvement partner to work with your school.

Evaluation article: Headteachers’ appraisal

David Birch outlines best practice in the management of the headteacher appraisal process and offers advice for headteachers on how to make the most of appraisal in their own professional development.

Evaluation article: Making CPD work harder

Professional development is a crucial factor in school improvement and improving pupil outcomes, but it could work harder, says Keith Wright.

Evaluation article: Using the Framework for governance

Tony Powell looks at how the Framework for governance can be used to clarify the strategic direction of your school.

Evaluation article: Interpreting the inspection dashboard

There is a new inspection dashboard to go with Ofsted's new Common inspection framework. Tony Powell explains how it can be used.

Evaluation article: The government's Prevent guidance

Suzanne O'Connell considers the guidance available regarding Prevent and school leaders' responsibilities.

Evaluation article: Improving provision for the most able

Ofsted reports are making it clear. The DfE wants to see secondary schools challenging their most able students. In this article, Suzanne O’Connell summarises the criticisms and recommendations from ‘The…

Evaluation article: Personal development, behaviour and welfare

Tony Powell looks at the new key area ‘personal development, behaviour and welfare’ under the new Ofsted inspection framework.

Evaluation article: Is there a mental health crisis in our schools?

The mental health of children and young people is at the top of the agenda at the moment. Increased anxiety, self-harm and eating disorders are bringing some schools to crisis…

Evaluation article: Evaluating the effectiveness of assessment

Tony Powell interprets government guidance on assessment to help schools support self-evaluation.

Evaluation article: Raising boys’ achievement

John Viner looks at research into boys’ underachievement and reviews some successful strategies.

Evaluation article: National standards of excellence for headteachers

Tony Powell looks at the revised national standards for headteachers and how they should be used by schools.

Evaluation article: Governors and the inspection interview

Tony Powell discusses how to prepare governors in advance for an inspection interview.

Evaluation article: Monitoring and coaching through lesson observation

John Viner explores ways to develop a culture of continual improvement in teaching through lesson observation.

Evaluation article: CPD: Less measurement and more development

How can schools translate CPD into genuine improvement for staff? Keith Wright asked leaders to share their views, and discovered an emerging consensus about which approaches work best.

Evaluation article: Challenging 
the most able

Tony Powell looks at how to identify the most able pupils, and the key factors that enable the brightest pupils to achieve.

Evaluation article: Using the teachers’ standards as a framework for CPD and accountability

Tony Powell looks at how the teachers’ standards can be used to evaluate performance and support improvement.

Evaluation article: Managing behaviour outside the classroom

Since January 2014 there has been increased emphasis on the behaviour of pupils. In this article, Jim Donnelly offers advice on managing behaviour around the school.

Evaluation article: Managing pupils’ behaviour in lessons

David Birch offers advice on effective classroom management and argues that effective practice relies on a combination of the consistent application of agreed policy and the development of awareness and…

Evaluation article: Keeping Children Safe Statutory Guidance

This is statutory guidance, which means that schools and colleges (including academies and free schools) must have regard to it. It contains what schools should do and what they must…

Evaluation article: Four steps to school improvement

School improvement is a complex recipe that takes time to perfect. Keith Wright looks at some of the key barriers to school improvement and suggests strategies and systems to overcome…

Evaluation article: Finding a way through the jungle: The essence of leadership

Louise Wingrove gives practical advice on how to become a leader your team will want to follow.

Evaluation article: How to audit your whole-school literacy provision

Given that whole-school literacy is central to raising standards of achievement in schools and that it is a key focus for Ofsted, David Birch outlines some of the actions schools…

Evaluation article: Professional development: the growing case for evidence

Teachers are good at gathering evidence of pupil progress, but many find it difficult to do the same with regard to their own professional development.  Keith Wright looks at the…

Evaluation article: Getting personal with CPD

Less than a fifth of teachers in England’s schools think their continuing profession development (CPD) is any good, according to a recent survey. One of the keys to unlocking the…

Evaluation article: Making performance appraisal an objective and helpful process

Performance appraisal is crucial to school improvement, but many schools are still without a rigorous and transparent way of carrying it out, says Keith Wright. Here, he analyses the challenges…

Evaluation article: Parent View — an update

Jenny Townsend looks at the importance of Parent View in achieving an outstanding rating in inspection, and how comments from parents are used by Ofsted.

Evaluation article: Raising pupil achievement through parental engagement: a practical approach

Jenny Townsend explores how parental engagement can contribute to school improvement and in particular the role this can play in raising pupil achievement levels.

Evaluation article: Effective parental engagement

Ofsted’s Parent View means that parents have a direct influence on the decision to inspect. Jenny Townsend examines why this matters to schools.

Evaluation article: CPD: Less measurement and more development

Published: Thursday, 05 February 2015

How can schools translate CPD into genuine improvement for staff? Keith Wright asked leaders to share their views, and discovered an emerging consensus about which approaches work best.

Summary

  • Continuing professional development (CPD) needs to be focused firmly on developing teachers.
  • Giving teachers the means to organise their own professional development and support is a powerful approach.
  •  Lesson observations can be effective, but they should be focused on development rather than judgement in order to be effective.
  • Most school leaders and teachers agree that high-quality CPD is vital to school improvement, but we are still some way from it being a reality in every school. To illustrate the point, it is worth looking at how one key CPD tool – lesson observations – is used by schools today.

Lesson observations

To many teachers, lesson observations are a crude way of checking that they are not getting it wrong in the classroom. They are frequently associated with performance management as a way for the senior leadership team (SLT) to measure teachers against performance management objectives. Observations are therefore seen by many teachers as a high-risk ‘test’ rather than an opportunity for genuine professional development.

Although this is the case in a substantial proportion of schools, attitudes are changing. More school leaders are beginning to see lesson observations and other CPD approaches as a way to help teachers get it right.

This shift was certainly evident during discussions held in London and Leeds with school leaders. Most of the leaders gathered for these discussions held similar views about which CPD approaches truly develop staff and help them make a direct contribution to school improvement.

Practical examples

David Weston, chief executive of the Teacher Development Trust charity, pointed out that senior leaders tend to take one of two views of school improvement: a ‘fixing what is wrong’ approach or one where staff are ‘helped to be more right’.

He said that the most effective thing leaders do is to help staff to improve themselves. ‘This is more effective than driving. It’s about leaders helping their staff to improve themselves.’

Leaders agreed that teaching and learning groups could provide an excellent mechanism for the delivery of this CPD, including lesson observations.

Blatchington Mill School in Brighton and Hove and Manor Academy in Nottinghamshire are good examples of this approach. Blatchington Mill’s deputy headteacher, Ashley Harrold, said that at his school they have lead professionals for teaching and learning in a subject area and teacher learning communities. ‘I split it into eight areas which I think make for great teaching,’ he explained. ‘The teaching and learning groups cover these eight areas. Staff focus on a particular area of pedagogy, and lesson observation targets are linked to these areas.’

Lesson observation as a tool for professional development can be limited in its effectiveness if it is not used in a supportive and developmental way. David Weston believes that superficial observation does not necessarily tell you much about what is going on: ‘You can see that they [the observers] have high expectations, but it is about making [the observed] understand why they are doing something in a particular way, such as achievement for learning. Until they understand why they are doing it they will never do it right.’

In David Weston’s view, lesson observations need to be more than one-offs; multiple observations are key. He points to research by the Gates Foundation, which found that a single observation of a lesson was no more than 66% reliable with a trained observer, while other research suggested that uncertificated observers could be less than 50% reliable.

An open culture where observations are used in a truly developmental way is the ideal, but it takes time to get to that point in many schools. ‘It’s hard to shift from a culture where you do not trust the senior leadership team to one in which you are sharing your weaknesses,’ David Weston said. ‘This is not widely recognised in a system where you are expected by Ofsted to make it good quickly.’

Nick Hindmarsh, principal of Dartmouth Academy in Devon, thinks it is important that the judgement element of performance management is separate from the developmental aspects of observation and other professional development. In his own school, performance management observations are done by him and two deputy heads. The heads of the faculty teams are supporters in professional development and not the judges, as he feels that separation is needed.

Maria Townsend, headteacher of Raynville Primary in Leeds, believes that secondary school leaders place such a strong emphasis on teaching and learning groups in order to use them as vehicles for professional development. A similar approach is being pursued at her school, where these groups identify and direct their own half-termly CPD sessions. She added that such peer approaches are only workable with specific training, otherwise they are not objective enough. With this in mind, peer lesson observations should be part of a teacher’s personal development as well as a way of driving school improvement.

Don Rolls, performance manager at Royds School Specialist Language College in Leeds, summed up the views of many leaders, adding: ‘The observer should be another pair of eyes. It can work really well if the observer asks the teacher what they want them to focus and comment on. They can then build the observer’s recommendations into their next lesson. Over a period of weeks their practice improves because of supportive observation.’

CPD case study: The Manor Academy, Mansfield

Big changes were needed at The Manor Academy in Nottinghamshire after it was placed in special measures in autumn 2011. A new curriculum was brought in and traditional faculties were replaced with four cross-subject learning strands. CPD was overhauled so that all staff members could contribute to the school’s improvement journey.

CPD became a non-negotiable part of the working week for everyone, says Manor headteacher Donna Trusler who, as deputy headteacher at the time, played a lead role in the changes.

Every staff member has two hours of CPD a week – half of which is spent in ‘teaching and learning communities’.

These communities are made up of staff from across the learning strands. Led by an experienced teacher, they might include a learning strand leader and deputy, two classroom teachers, two support staff and an ‘exceptional practitioner’ teacher.

‘Mixed groups make the sharing of knowledge from across the school easier,’ says Donna. ‘For example, a geography teacher might pick up a useful approach from a history teacher and she can take it back to her own classroom. In the past, this expertise might have been hidden away in faculties.’

The groups are trained to use the ‘action learning sets’ coaching approach. ‘A teacher should be able to share a concern or issue with fellow group members who don’t give solutions but instead ask questions that will help that teacher find the answer,’ Donna explains. ‘Most people have the answers within them – they just need help bringing them out.’

Measurement of the impact of CPD is crucial, and the school regularly evaluates its CPD.

Staff use performance management and CPD to identify their development needs, do the training and then connect back to that training any later improvements in their practice. As well as helping staff develop and make a real contribution to their development plan, it tells them which CPD is really effective – and which is a waste of time.

The impact of the changes at The Manor Academy is undeniable. Currently 75% of lessons are good or outstanding – two years ago it was 40%. ‘We were lifted out of category after a year and Ofsted said we could become outstanding very quickly,’ says Donna. ‘Results have also risen from 66% of pupils getting five or more good GCSEs in 2010 to 82% in 2013.’

Toolkit

Use the following item in the Toolkit to help you put the ideas in this article into practice:

About the author

Keith Wright is managing director of school improvement planning specialists Bluewave.SWIFT. To download the company’s free CPD white paper, visit www.bluewaveswift.co.uk 

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